How to Run a Successful FAST Creative Program

Damen Jackson > Blog > DJ Original Blog > How to Run a Successful FAST Creative Program

Do you remember the old cubicle-wall sign that said: “Fast, Cheap or Great. Choose Two.” 

I always liked that sign, but unfortunately, it was obviously written from a creatives’ point of view. I suppose that’s why I liked it. 

However, the creatives aren’t the ones who receive emails from a Walmart buyer who wants to see something new in three weeks – or your competitor could win the business.

That reminds me of the other cubicle sign that said:

“Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Wow, the 90’s were clearly not focused on building teamwork.

The truth is sometimes you and your team have to move fast, cheap and do a great job, because your collective jobs depend on it. No one can plan for every situation. Not everyone allocates a budget for these situations in advance, because no one sees it coming. Sometimes all you can do is react, rally the troops, and do your best.

During my 25+ years in the creative industry, I’ve seen this type of situation literally dozens of times. Here is some advice for implementing a winning program – particularly if you need to act fast.

When a high-pressure situation happens, success requires a collective team focused on solutions, not resistance. First, meet as a group with everyone involved in the program: executives, salespeople, operations, creative and administrators. Anyone who will be asked to help should be in this meeting! Explain the situation, what is at risk and how the company must perform to win. This will help everyone understand this is a team effort. Make that point even more salient by stating each persons’ role in the challenge at hand. When participants see everyone has a purpose, camaraderie is created, and cooperation and collaboration are fostered.

Here’s my #1 tip for a highly effective, fast creative program. (Maybe I can create the cubicle-wall saying of the 2020’s)

Focus on what matters, and nothing else. 

When results truly matter, limit the range of work so you can focus on excellence. 

Discipline is critical. Discipline makes the creative process faster by applying focus, purpose and clear boundaries around the range of ideation. When creative thinkers have a specific problem to solve, their minds still have room to wander, but with some well-considered guardrails.

  1. Know and share any operational realities upfront (production, timing, budget).
  2. Establish expectations from everyone. Assign specific roles & responsibilities.
  3. Which is better…more work or great work? Discuss which deliverables will actually help you win the business, then forget about the others. Deliver fewer, but higher-quality solutions. Less is more!
  4. Don’t request items you don’t absolutely need.
  5. Don’t sneak in additional requests after work has started.
  6. In case points 3, 4 and 5 weren’t clear, focus and discipline includes you, too.

Other considerations:

Share what winning looks like.

Establish and share metrics of success for the program. Clarify expectations, so all team members are marching toward the same goal line. 

Establish a working budget upfront.

Establish a realistic budget so deliverables can be scaled to meet the needs. If a win means millions of dollars of additional revenue, allocate a decent budget – it’s worth the investment. If the win means retaining millions of dollars of current business, allocate a decent budget – it’s worth the investment. You get the point!

Your agency is your partner here.

Your agency is devoted to helping you win business. Agencies are used to delivering great work on tight deadlines, and if you’re willing to accept focused work with great solutions, we are very willing to jump in and help. 

Be sure to include your agency in those upfront meetings. Like any other team member, the agency needs to feel included and invested in the outcome.

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